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Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

By Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee


Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain
why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas. But the reality is much
more primal: Great leadership works through the emotions. Humankinds original leaders earned
their place because their leadership was emotionally compelling. In the modern organization this
primordial emotional task remains. Leaders must drive the collective emotions in a positive
direction and clear the smog created by toxic emotions whether it is on the shop floor or in the
When leaders drive emotions positively they bring out everyones best. When they drive emotions
negatively they spawn dissonance, undermining the emotional foundations that let people shine.
The key to making primal leadership work to everyones advantage lies in the leadership
competencies of emotional intelligence; how leaders handle themselves and their relationships.
Leaders who exercise primal leadership drive the emotions of those they lead in the right

What Youll Learn In This Summary

In this summary, you will learn the secrets of primal leadership by:

Understanding what primal leadership is and why, when practiced

correctly, it creates resonance in your organization.
Understanding the neuroanatomy that underlies primal leadership and
what emotional intelligence competencies you need to succeed.
Understanding the six leadership styles you can use from visionary to
coaching to pacesetting to inspire others, and when to use each one.
Understanding who you are and what you need to change to become a
primal leader, and then develop a plan to make those changes.
Learning how to build emotionally intelligent organizations.

1. The vital emotional component of leadership
Gifted leadership occurs where heart and head feeling and thought meet. These are the
two thingsthat allow a leader to soar. All leaders need enough intellect to handle the tasks and
challenges at hand. However, intellect alone wont make a leader. Leaders execute a vision by
motivating, guiding, inspiring, listening, persuading and creating resonance.
As a result, the manner in which leaders act not just what they do, but how they do it is a
fundamental key to effective leadership. The reason lies in thedesign of the human brain.

The Open Loop

The brain is an open loop. We rely on connections with other people for our emotional
stability. Scientists describe the open-loop system as interpersonal limbic regulation,
whereby one person transmits signals that can alter hormone levels, cardiovascular function,
sleep rhythms and even immune function inside the body of another. Other people can change
our very physiology and our emotions. The continual interplay of limbic open loops among
members of a group creates a kind
of emotional soup, with everyone
adding his or her flavor to the mix. Laughter and the Open Loop
A study at Yale University showed that among working
Negative emotions especially
groups, cheerfulness and warmth spread most easily.
chronic anger, anxiety or a sense of Laughter, in particular, demonstrates the power of
futility powerfully disrupt work, the open loop in operation.
hijacking attentions from the tasks Unlike other emotional signals which can be feigned,
at hand. laughter is largely involuntary. In a neurological sense,
On the other hand, when people laughing represents the shortest distance between two
feel good, they work at their best. people because it instantly interlocks limbic systems.
Feeling good lubricates mental This immediate, involuntary reaction might be called a
efficiency, making people better at limbic lock. Laughter in the workplace signals trust,
understanding information and comfort, and a shared sense of the world
making complex judgments.
Insurance agents with a glass-
ishalf- full attitude, for example, make more sales, in part because they are able to withstand
rejection better than their more pessimistic peers. A study on 62 CEOs and their top
management shows just how important mood is. The CEOs and their management team
members were assessed on how upbeat energetic, enthusiastic and determined they
were. They were also asked how much conflict the top team experienced. The study found that
the more positive the overall moods of people in the top management team, the more
cooperative they worked together and the better the companys business results. The longer a
company was run by a management team that did not get along, the poorer the companys
market return.

2. Why good leaders must read emotions
Dissonance, in its original musical sense, describes an unpleasant, harsh sound. Dissonant
leadership produces groups that feel emotionally discordant, in which people have a sense of
being continually off-key. Ranging from abusive tyrants to manipulative sociopaths, dissonant
leaders are out of touch and create wretched workplaces although they have no idea how
destructive they are, or simply dont care. Meanwhile, the collective distress they trigger
becomes the groups preoccupation, deflecting attention away from their mission.

Emotionally Intelligent Resonance

Resonant leaders, on the other hand, are attuned to their peoples feelings and move them in a
positive emotional direction. Resonance comes naturally to emotionally intelligent
leaders. Their passion and enthusiastic energy resounds throughout the group. When there are
serious concerns, emotionally intelligent (EI) leaders use empathy to attune to the emotional
registry of the people they lead. For example, if something has happened that everyone feels
angry about (such as the closing of a division) or sad about (such as a co-workers serious
illness) the EI leader not only empathizes with those emotions, but also expresses them for the
group. The leader leaves people feeling understood and cared for. Under the guidance of an EI
leader, people feel a mutual comfort level. They share ideas, learn from one another, make
decisions collaboratively, and get things done. Perhaps most important, connecting with others
at an emotional level makes work more meaningful.

Leadership and the Brains Design

New findings in brain research show that the neural systems responsible for the intellect
and for the emotions are separate, but have intimately interwoven connections. This brain
circuitry provides the neural basis
of primal leadership. Although our business culture places great value in an intellect devoid
of emotion, our emotions are more powerful than our intellect. In emergencies, the limbic
brain our emotional center
commandeers the rest of our brain.
There is a good reason for this. Emotions are crucial for survival, being the brains way of
alerting us to something urgent and offering an immediate plan for action fight, flee,
freeze. The thinking brain evolved from the limbic brain, and continues to take orders from
it when it perceives a threat. The trigger point is the amygdala, a limbic brain structure that
scans whats happening to us moment by moment, always on the alert for an emergency. It
commandeers other parts of the brain, including the rational centers in the cortex, for
immediate action if it perceives an emergency.
Today we face complex social realities with a brain designed for surviving physical
emergencies. And so we find ourselves hijacked swept away by anxiety or anger better
suited for handling bodily threats than office politics.
Fortunately, emotional impulses pass through other parts of the brain, from the amygdala
through the prefrontal area. There an emotional impulse can be vetoed. The dialogue
between neurons in the emotional center and the prefrontal area operate through a
neurological superhighway. The emotional intelligence competencies hinge on the smooth
operation of this circuitry. Biologically speaking, then, the art of primal leadership
interweaves our intellect and emotions.

3. The Four Dimensions of Emotional Intelligence
There are four domains to emotional intelligence: selfawareness, self management, social
awareness and relationships management. Within the four domains are 18 competencies.
These competencies are the vehicles of primal leadership. Even the most outstanding leader
will not have all competencies. Effective leaders, though, exhibit at least one competency from
each of the domains. The four domains and their competencies are listed below:

Emotional self-awareness: Reading ones own emotions and recognizing their impact
and using gut sense to guide decisions.
Accurate self-assessment: Knowing ones strengths and limits.
Self-confidence: A sound sense of ones self-worth and capabilities.

Emotional self-control: Keeping disruptive emotions and impulses under control.
Transparency: Displaying honesty, integrity and trustworthiness.
Adaptability: Flexibility in adapting to changing situations or overcoming obstacles.
Achievement: The drive to improve performance to meet inner standards of excellence.
Initiative: Readiness to act and
seize opportunities. A Visionary Leader
Optimism: Seeing the upside in When Shawana Leroy became director of a social
events. agency, there were clearly problems. Her predecessor
had mired the agency in rules that the talented staff
Social Awareness the agency had attracted because of its mission found
draining. Despite increased needs for the agencys
Empathy: Sensing others
services, the pace of work was slow.
emotions, understanding their
Leroy met one-on-one with staff and found out that
perspective, and taking active they shared her vision.
interest in their concerns. She got people talking about their hopes for the
Organizational awareness: future and tapped into the compassion and dedication
Reading the currents, decision they felt. She voiced their shared values whenever
networks, and politics at the she could. She guided them in looking at whether
organizational level. how they did things furthered the mission, and
Service: Recognizing and together they eliminated rules that made no sense.
meeting follower, client or Meanwhile, she modeled the principles of the new
organization she wanted to create: one that was
customer needs.
transparent and honest; one that focused on rigor and
results. Then Leroy and her team tackled the changes.
Relationship Management The agencys emotional climate changed to reflect her
Inspirational leadership: passion and commitment; she set the tone as a
Guiding and motivating with a visionary leader.
compelling vision.
Influence:Wielding a range of
tactics for persuasion.
Developing others: Bolstering others abilitiesthrough feedback and guidance.
Change catalyst: Initiating, managing and leading in new directions.
Building bonds: Cultivating and maintaining relationship webs.
Teamwork and collaboration: Cooperation and team-building.

4. The Leadership Repertoire
The best, most effective leaders act according to one or more of six distinct approaches to
leadership. Four of the styles visionary, coaching, affiliative and democratic create the
kind of resonance that boosts performance. The other two pacesetting and commanding
should be applied with caution.

The Six Styles of Leadership

1. Visionary. The visionary leader articulates where a group is going, but not how it gets there
setting people free to innovate, experiment and take calculated risks. Inspirational
leadership is the emotional intelligence competence that most strongly undergirds the
visionary style. Transparency, another EI competency, is also crucial. If a leaders vision is
disingenuous, people sense it. The EI competency that matters most to visionary leadership,
however, is empathy. The ability to sense what others feel and understand their perspectives
helps leader articulate a truly inspirational vision.

2. Coaching. The coaching style is really the art of the one-on-one. Coaches help people
identify their unique strengths and weaknesses, tying those to their personal and career
aspirations. Effective coaching exemplifies the EI competency of developing others, which
lets a leader act as a counselor. It works hand in
hand with two other competencies: emotional awareness and empathy.

3. Affiliative. The affiliative style of leadership represents the collaborative competency in

action. An affiliative leader is most concerned with promoting harmony and fostering friendly
interactions. When leaders are being affiliative, they focus on the emotional needs of workers,
using empathy. Many leaders who use the affiliative approach combine it with the visionary
approach. Visionary leaders state a mission, set standards, and let people know whether their
work is furthering group goals. Ally that with the caring approach of the affiliative leader and
you have a potent combination.
The Case of Too Much Pacesetting
4. Democratic. A democratic The superb technical skills of Sam, an R&D biochemist
leader builds on a triad of EI at a large pharmaceutical company, made him
abilities: teamwork and an early star. When he was appointed to head a team
collaboration, conflict to develop a new product, Sam continued to shine,
management and influence. and his teammates were as competent and self-motivated
as their leader. Sam, however, began setting the
Democratic leaders are great
pace by working late and offering himself as a model
listeners and true collaborators. of how to do first-class scientific work under tremendous
They know how to quell deadline pressure. His team completed the task
conflict and create harmony. in record time.
Empathy also plays a role. A But when Sam was selected to head R&D, he began
democratic approach works to slip. Not trusting the capabilities of his subordinates,
best when as a leader, you are he refused to delegate power, becoming instead
unsure what direction to take a micro-manager obsessed with details. He took over
and need ideas from able for others he perceived as slacking, rather than trust
employees. For example, that they could improve with guidance. To everyones
IBMs Louis Gerstner, an relief, including his own, he returned to his old job.
outsider to the computer
industry when he became CEO of the ailing giant, relied on seasoned colleagues for advice.

5. Pacesetting. Pacesetting as a leadership style must be applied sparingly, restricted to
settings where it truly works. Common wisdom holds that pacesetting is admirable. The leader
holds and exemplifies high standards for performance. He is obsessive about doing things
better and faster, quickly pinpointing poor performers. Unfortunately, applied excessively,
pacesetting can backfire and lead to low morale as workers think they are being pushed too
hard or that the leader doesnt trust them to get their job done. The emotional intelligence
foundation of a pacesetter is the drive to achieve through improved performance and the
initiative to seize opportunities. But a pacesetter who lacks empathy can easily be blinded to
the pain of those who achieve what the leader demands. Pacesetting works best when
combined with the passion of the visionary style and the team building of the affiliate style.

6. Commanding. The command leader demands immediate compliance with orders, but
doesnt bother to explain the reasons. If subordinates fail to follow orders, these leaders resort
to threats. They also seek tight control and monitoring. Of all the leadership styles, the
commanding approach is the least effective. Consider what the style does to an organizations
climate. Given that emotional contagion spreads most readily from the top down, an
intimidating, cold leader contaminates everyones mood. Such a leader erodes peoples spirits
and the pride and satisfaction they take in their work. The commanding style works on limited
circumstances, and only when used judiciously. For example, in a genuine emergency, such as
an approaching hurricane or a hostile take-over attempt, a take-control style can help everyone
through the crisis. An effective execution of the commanding style draws on three emotional
intelligence competencies: influence, achievement and initiative. In addition, self-awareness,
emotional self-control and empathy are crucial to keep the commanding style from going off

5. Developing Emotionally Intelligent Leaders
The key to learning that lasts lies in the brain. Remember that emotional intelligence involves
circuitry between the prefrontal lobes and the limbic system. Skills based in the limbic system
are best learned through motivation, extended practice and feedback. The limbic system is a
slow learner, especially when trying to relearn deeply ingrained habits. This matters
immensely when trying to improve leadership skills. These skills often come down to habits
learned early in life. Reeducating the emotional brain for leadership learning requires plenty of
practice and repetition. Thats because neural connections used over and over become stronger
while those not used weaken.

Self-Directed Learning
To work, leadership development must be self-directed. You must want to develop or
strengthen an aspect of who you are or who you want to be. This requires first getting a strong
image of your ideal self, and an accurate picture of your real self. Self-directed learning
involves five discoveries, each representing a discontinuity. The goal is to use each discovery
as a tool for making the changes needed to become an emotionally intelligent leader. People
who successfully change move through the following stages:

The first discovery: My ideal self Who do I want to be?

The second discovery: My real self Who am I? What are my strengths and gaps?
The third discovery: My learning agenda How can I build on my strengths while
reducing my gaps?
The fourth discovery: Experimenting with and practicing new thoughts, behaviors
and feelings to the point of mastery.
The fifth discovery: Developing supportive and trusting relationships that make
change possible.

6. The Motivation to Change
The first discovery the ideal self is where change begins. Connecting with ones
passion, energy, and excitement about life is the key to uncovering your ideal self. Doing so
requires a reach deep inside.

You, Fifteen Years from Now

Think about where you would be sitting and reading this summary if it were fifteen years from
now and you were living your
ideal life. What kinds of people How One Leader Changed
are around you? What does your When Nick, a star salesman, took over as head of
environment look and feel like? an insurance agency in a new city, he knew he needed
What would you be doing during help. The agency was in the bottom quartile. He hired
a typical day? Dont worry about leadership consultants, who determined what type of
the feasibility. Just let the image leader Nick was. He fit the pacesetting mold, with elements
develop and place yourself in the of the commanding style. As pressure mounted,
picture. Write down your vision, the atmosphere grew increasingly tense.
Nick was encouraged to focus on his salespeoples
or share it with a trusted friend.
performance rather than his own. This required he use
After doing this exercise, you the coaching and visionary styles. Fortunately, some
may feel a release of energy and of the traits that made him a great salesman empathy,
optimism. Envisioning your ideal self-management and inspiration transferred
future can be a powerful way to well. He seized the opportunity to work one-on-one
connect with the real possibilities and stifled his impulse to jump in when he got impatient
for change in our lives. Next, with someones work. Eighteen months later, the
determine what your guiding agency had moved from the bottom to the top and
principles are. What are your Nick became one of the youngest managers to win a
core values in the areas of life national award for growth.
that are important to you, such as
family, relationships, work, spirituality and health. Write down everything you want to
experience before you die. Doing so will open you up to new possibilities.

Look at Your Real Self

Once you see your ideal self, you need to look at your real self the second discovery. Then,
and only then, can you understand your strengths. Taking stock of your real self starts with an
inventory of your talents and passions the person you actually are. This can be painful if the
slow, invisible creep of compromise and complacency has caused your ideal self to slip away.
How do you get to the truth of your real self? You must break through the information
quarantine around you. Actively seek out negative feedback. You can do this using a 360-
degree evaluation collecting information from your boss, your peers and your subordinates.
Multiple views render a more complete picture because each sees a different aspect of you.
Once you have a full picture of yourself, you can examine your strengths and gaps. Do this by
creating a personal balance sheet, listing both. Dont focus solely on the gaps.

Metamorphosis: Sustaining Leadership Change
Its now time to develop a practical plan to learn leadership skills, which is the third discovery.
Focus on improvements you are passionate about, building on your strengths while filling the
gaps. Craft specific manageable learning goals that are tied to the goals that motivate you.
When goal-setting, consider that:
Goals should build strengths.
Goals must be your own, not someone elses.
Plans must be flexible and feasible, with manageable steps.
Plans must fit your learning style.

The Experimenting Stage

The fourth discovery requires you to reconfigure your brain as you practice new behaviors to
the point of mastery. You can only do this by bringing bad habits into awareness and
consciously practicing a better
way. Rehearse the behavior at Are You a Boiling Frog?
every opportunity until it If you drop a frog into boiling water, it will instinctively
becomes automatic. Improving jump out. But if you place the frog in a pot of
an emotional intelligence cold water and gradually increase the temperature,
competency takes months the frog wont notice the waters getting hotter. It will
sit there until the water boils. The fate of that poached
because the emotional centers of
frog isnt so unlike some leaders who settle into a
the brain are involved. The more routine or let small conveniences solidify into large
often a behavioural sequence habits and allow inertia to set in.
repeats, the stronger the
underlying brain circuits become,
as you rewire your brain. Like a professional musician, you must practice and practice until
the behavior becomes automatic. A powerful technique you can use is the mental rehearsal.
Envision yourself repeating the behavior you want to master over and over again. This,
coupled with using the behavior as often as possible, will trigger the neural connections
necessary for genuine change to occur.

Supportive and Trusting Relationships

Finally, begin applying the fifth discovery the power of supportive relationships. For
anyone who has gone through leadership development that works, the importance of the
people along the way is obvious. Having supportive people around when you want to change
can make a big difference. Positive groups help people make positive changes, especially
when the relationships are filled with candor, trust and psychological safety. For leaders, that
safety may be crucial for learning to occur. Leaders often feel unsafe in the spotlight, and
avoid risk-taking change. Where can you find these relationships? One approach is to find a
mentor. Another is to hire an executive coach.

7. Building Emotionally Intelligent Organizations
When it comes to leadership, changing a single leader is only the beginning. The rest of the job is to
develop a critical mass of resonant leaders and thereby transform how people work together.

Parallel Transformations
The most effective leadership development works hand in hand with parallel transformations in the
organizations that those leaders guide. Groups only begin to change when they understand how they
work, especially if there is discordance. They must understand what the underlying group norms are,
and then develop the ideal vision for the group.

The Power of Group Decision-Making

Group decision-making is superior to that of the brightest individual in the group unless the group
lacks harmony or the ability to cooperate. Even groups with brilliant individuals will make bad
decisions in such an environment. In short, groups are smarter
than individuals when (and only when) they exhibit the Groups are smarter than
qualities of emotional intelligence. Leaders ignore the power individuals when
of the group at great cost. You cant assume that the force of (and only when)
your leadership alone is enough t drive peoples behavior.
they exhibit the qualities
Dont make the common mistake of ignoring resonance-
building leadership styles and steam-rolling over the team of emotional intelligence.
using the commanding and pacesetting styles exclusively. To
lead a team effectively, you must address the group reality.
Leaders who have a keen sense of the groups pivotal norms and who are adept at maximizing positive
emotions can create highly emotionally intelligent teams.

Maximizing the Groups Emotional Intelligence

A groups emotional intelligence requires the same capabilities that an emotionally intelligent
individual does self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. A
group expresses its self-awareness by being mindful of shared moods as well as the emotions of its
members. Emotions are contagious, and a team leader needs to understand how to keep a bad mood
from spreading. For example, imagine a meeting held in an out-of-the way location and a team
member arriving late exclaiming that the meeting location is very inconvenient for him. If the
members anger is allowed to fester, it will infect the whole team. But if instead, the leader
acknowledges the sacrifice the member is making and thanks him, the anger dissipates. The leader who
wants to create an emotionally intelligent team can start by helping the team raise its collective self-
awareness. This is the true work of the team leader. Initiate the process by looking at whats really
going on in the group. Uncover the teams less productive norms and work with the team to change

8. Reality and the Ideal Vision
Just as was the case with teams, a leader who wants to change an organization must first understand its
reality. Change begins when emotionally intelligent leaders actively question the emotional reality and
cultural norms underlying the organizations daily activities and behavior. To create resonance and
results, the leader has to pay attention to peoples emotions. Even toxic organizations can change.

Dynamic Inquiry
A process called dynamic inquiry can help you discover an organizations emotional reality what
people care about, what is helping them, their group, and the organization to succeed, and whats
getting in the way. The process uses focused conversations and open-ended questions intended to get to
feelings. Themes become apparent from these conversations, which are then taken to small groups for
more discussion. The conversations that ensue about whats right and whats not create momentum.
People feel inspired and empowered, willing to work together to address their collective concerns.
Once they do, you will be able to help the organization define its ideal vision one that is in sync
with individual hopes and dreams.

9. Creating Sustainable Change

How does a leader create sustainable
resonance in an organization? Every
large organization has pockets of Shoneys Transformation
resonance and dissonance. The overall The Shoneys restaurant chain had a close-knit
ratio determines the organizations group of executives at the top people who knew
emotional climate and performance. To each other well, shared history and beliefs, and generally
shift the ratio toward resonance, thought they knew how to run their business. In
cultivate a dispersed cadre of reality, they were an old-boys network of white male
emotionally intelligent leaders. To do senior executives with an underlying culture that left
that, leadership training must be the people of color behind.
strategic priority and be managed at the All that changed when the company paid $132 million
highest level. Commitment must come to settle a class-action lawsuit by employees and
from the top. Thats because new applicants who alleged discrimination. A cadre of new
leadership means a new mindset and leaders have changed the companys culture and
new behaviors, and in order for these to broadened opportunities so much that ten years later,
stick, the organizations culture, systems the company was listed as one of the top 50 companies
and processes all need to change. Lets for minorities by Fortune magazine.
say that as a leader, you get it. Youve The change occurred because the lawsuit was a
set the stage by assessing the culture, wake-up call regarding the reality of the companys
examining the reality and the ideal. dissonant culture. The new leaders identified an ideal
Youve created resonance around the vision that would guide hiring practices, and the
idea of change, and youve identified organization embraced that vision.
the people who will take top leadership
The next step is to design a process that lets those leaders uncover their own dreams and personal
ideals, examine their strengths and their gaps, and use their daily work as a learning laboratory. That
process must also be self-directed and include the following elements:
A tie-in to the organizations culture.
Seminars emphasizing individual change.
Learning about emotional competencies.
Creative learning experiences.
Relationships that support learning, such as executive coaching.